What Certifications Are Important in the Solar Industry?

What Certifications Are Important in the Solar Industry - 1

Solar energy continues to develop rapidly, leading to more and more people installing solar systems for private and business needs. Entire solar farms are being opened in different states as an alternative to their traditional fuel-fired counterparts.

The demand for solar power specialists is also increasing, expected to grow by 52% by the decade’s end. At the same time, the need for high-level installation and compliance appeared, forcing all industry specialists to obtain a certificate and a license.

Speaking of the licensing requirements, the current Photovoltaic certification –  PV certification – is controlled by the North American board of certified energy practitioners and can be acquired in all states and most countries.

Read on to learn more about certificates and compliance in the field of solar energy.

Most Popular Solar Panel Occupations and Their Responsibilities

Specialist Requirements Skills
Installer Secondary education, license, certificate (optional), and experience (optional) A NABCEP PV installation professional must understand all types of systems and be able to test, install, maintain, and adjust each type. Likewise installers must be able to  select the optimal installation site, carry out sealing and comply with all safety regulations and manufacturing certifications
Electrician Secondary education, license, certificate (optional), and experience (optional) Must be able to install and repair all electrical parts of the system, as well as connect the panels to the network
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator Secondary education and  solar panel installer certification courses Must be able to run the computer part of solar installations
Marketer  Associate’s degree, one to three years of marketing experience, and professional training Must effectively promote solar installations
System Vendor Bachelor’s degree, experience in sales, and some professional training Must effectively present and sell solar systems
Inspector Associate’s degree, license, NABCEP certification, and specialized courses Must evaluate the correct operation, installation and performance of solar systems
Designer Bachelor’s degree Must design plants from scratch, provide support during installation, and meet all specifications.
Solar Energy Buyer Bachelor’s or master’s degree Must find contractors, create  contracts, conduct costing and inventory, and oversee purchases

What Is Solar Certification for?

Unfortunately, the market is rife with self-taught installers. Solar installer certification can distinguish a qualified installer from the crowd, granting customers the highest level of service with no room for errors.

Even though solar PV certification is not mandatory in many states, it signifies the qualification and quality of a solar professional. To obtain a solar technician certification, you must pass relevant exams and prove your competence.

 

What Is NABCEP Certification?

NABCEP Certification is issued by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Not only is a solar installer license mandatory, but it allows you to get the job as an installer anywhere in the world. In other words, solar panel certification is a must to develop in the field.

The solar panel certifications NABCEP are developed by industry experts and have strict standards, reflecting changes in the market.

The following PV certifications are available: 

  • Photovoltaic Installation Professional (PVIP).
  • Photovoltaic Installer Specialist (PVIS).
  • Photovoltaic Technical Sales Council (PVTS).

Let’s review each of them in detail.

PV Installation Professional (PVIP) Certification

The most significant type of NABCEP solar certification, PVIP is issued by a professional council to confirm the professional affiliation of a specialist. PVIP confirms the knowledge of solar system installation, operation, and maintenance.

What Certifications Are Important in the Solar Industry - 2

Source: www.nabcep.org

To obtain PVIP, you must have experience in the field, undergo training, and pass exams. This photovoltaic certification can also be issued to people planning to open a solar business or spearhead a solar company.

Solar Installations Council (PVIS) Certification

To obtain this photovoltaic installation certification, you need to complete training, which takes less time than training for PVIP. The training includes an OSHA mini-course that introduces the most important topics in the construction industry and discusses the issues of preventing and identifying dangerous situations when installing solar systems.

PV Technical Sales Council (PVTS) Certification

This solar panel installation certification is designed for those who want to sell solar systems or do business in solar. Likewise, PVTS may help engineers, performance appraisers, and financial analysts. PVTS doesn’t require experience in the industry, but you need to understand how to work with clients, find a target audience, analyze solar systems, and evaluate incentives.

To obtain a solar technician certification, you must complete OSHA training, study the operation of solar systems, have sales experience, and pass an exam.

Other Certifications

  • Council of Systems Design Professionals (PVDS) Certification.PVDS solar installer certification is essential for individuals looking to build a career in solar system design. To obtain PVDS, you must possess work experience, undergo lengthy training, and pass an exam.
  • Commissioning and Maintenance Board Certification (PVCMS). PVCMS is a separate certification for commissioning and maintenance professionals. The training is fast, but practical experience is required.
  • Board of Solar Inspectors (PVSI) Certification. PVSI is required for inspectors who verify the correct operation of solar panels. To obtain PVSI, you need excellent solar systems design, legislative framework, and documentation knowledge. To receive a solar PV certification, you must complete a course, pass an exam, and have work experience.

What Are the Requirements to Get Certified?

The main requirements for a solar technician certification include:

  • 18 years of age.
  • High school diploma or A-level certificate.
  • Passing the solar panel certification exam.

Most certifications also require hands-on installation experience.

The Duration of Study

Each PV installer certification requires a different duration of the study, as shown in the table below

Course Type Duration Description
General  18-25 hours Simplified course for a solar certificate, similar to school or university lectures
Advanced 180 hours Course of theoretical and practical knowledge, online or offline. The practical part requires around 100 hours
Internal 2-6 weeks Additional training for specific certified solar panel installers

How Is Solar Training Certification Different from a License?

A solar panel installation license is mandatory in many states, whereas certificates are always optional. Solar installation certification from NABCEP is accepted at the national level and does not limit professionals in any way.

NABCEP PVIP vs. PVIS

The PVIP solar power certification requires longer solar certification training and deeper knowledge. For example, you must know how to put a solar system into operation and maintain it. Conversely, the PVIS solar panel installation certification requires fewer hours of studying and no maintenance knowledge. At the same time, both certifications require experience in solar systems and an OSHA 10 card.

When Should You Renew Your Solar Certificate?

You must renew your NABCEP certificate every few years. PVTS, PVIP, and PVIS must be updated every three years by taking the solar energy certification again.

Get Your Solar Panel Certification to Elevate Your Career

A solar installation license and NABCEP-certified status are a must to gain customer trust and make more in the field of solar energy. Not only is solar installation certification mandatory to operate nationwide, but it’s beneficial to your professional growth and earning potential.

James Whitham is a respected author, having written numerous articles about the benefits of solar power systems and renewable energy. He is also an innovative technologies specialist at one of the United States' leading manufacturers of equipment for solar farm projects. With a deep knowledge of this field, James has been instrumental in helping to shape the future of sustainable energy solutions.

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